When selling your house by yourself (FSBO, for sale by owner), you won’t have the assistance of a real estate agent which also means you do not have access to their expertise and unbiased view of what makes your home special. But that doesn’t mean you cannot sell your house by yourself.
You just need to be extra conscious of what a licensed agent would do, especially when it comes to listing your house, taking photos and marketing it as for sale by owner.
Below you will find ten pro-tips for doing am FSBO transaction which will help you to sell your house fast.
Take Photos of the Property, Not the Items You Love Within it.
Don’t focus on what you love about the property, focus on the structure and land instead. Your goal is to help the potential buyer discover the entire property and your photographs need to do this. For example, you know the story behind the amazing custom door or shutters you had hand crafted, or the unique feature you scrimped and saved for, but they’ll possibly be pulled once the house has a new owner.
Instead of focusing on the features you love, focus on the space and opportunity to customize the space. For example when you take a photo of your house you’re likely going to focus in on the shutters you paid a ton of money for or feature the garden you spend countless hours in because you’re proud of it. Don’t do this!Take your photo so that it shows the pathway leading up to the door giving the potential shopper the experience of approaching their new home. And make sure that this path is used to create movement from where you are standing to the home. This helps the person’s eyes look at the entire structure and not a specific feature.
Set A Realistic Price Point
Remember, you will value your house higher than what it is worth. It is our nature as people who are attached to our homes. This will turn off potential buyers and extend how long it takes to finally sell your home. Don’t be scared to price a bit lower than what you want.
If you can get multiple offers, which can be done with a for sale by owner listing, you hold the power and can get homebuyers to counter each other which can result in you getting more than you expected. Your goal is to get people into your home and make an offer, not price the highest and hope for the best.To price your for sale by owner house, start by:
- Researching how many homes that are the same size and age as yours are for sale in your area.
- Look at Zillow, Redfin and other websites to see the price of similar homes in your neighborhood and create a comp.
- Compare your amenities, the age of the house, and how much work will be done when looking at these houses.
- Calculate an average based on the above and use this as a starting point.
But keep in mind that if every home has a back patio, and yours needs repairs or work done, this lowers the value of your home compared to the others. The same goes for you being in a better school district if the neighborhood is split. If the school is a selling point, you may get more money.
Pro-tip: Just because you read that a swimming pool can increase a home value does not make it true. This can be true in warmer climates like Arizona, Florida or Southern California but swimming pools can lower the selling price of a house if they’re in colder areas where they cannot be used in winter like New England and Michigan.
Write About the Experience and Space, Not Why You Love It.
Instead of talking about why you love a specific room of the house, write about the experience the person will have living there. Don’t say “One of my favorite things is sitting on the back patio and enjoying the sunset with friends”. This is about your experience. Do say “You’ll love relaxing every evening with stunning sunsets from your back patio”.
Don’t say “This nook was a perfect escape from city life where I would read and relax”. Do say “This room features a corner nook that can be padded for a seating area to escape city life. It is also perfect for storing books, placing plants to bring life to the room, or whatever your imagination can think up.”
This is something that real estate agents are a master of doing, but something home owners doing a for sale by owner deal struggle with.
Plan Extra Budget for Marketing & Advertising
Normally your real estate agent spends their own money to bring people to your home. Real estate agents know how to attract the right buyers, but that doesn’t mean you cannot do the same with your FSBO listing. You just have to make smart decisions.
Posting to free and classified sites is hit or miss as you do not know the demographics there or if there are active shoppers. And if your for sale by owner home is priced higher or lower than the demographic, you just wasted your time by both posting to the site and also when you have to do an open house for someone that will not be buying it. To get real traffic you need to pay for space and discover where you will get real visitors. But you won’t always find potential buyers with the first round of ads.
You can try Facebook and Google ads, advertising in local magazines, posting flyers at schools and where potential homebuyers will see them as well as placing a for sale sign in your front yard (assuming your HOA will allow it).Pro-tip: By planning to buy multiple ad spaces and keep them over multiple months, knowing the first one may not find a buyer, you should be able to negotiate a better rate for the ad space when compared to buying month by month.
Power Wash Your Sidewalks, Patios, Walkways and Driveway Before Taking Photos.
Dirty or stained walkways and spaces are a huge turn off for potential buyers. Hire someone or rent a power washer and clean these before you take your for sale by owner listing photos and have people tour your property. Everything will look cleaner and if the other houses the buyer is touring have dirty pathways and exteriors, yours will likely standout with a positive memory.
Remove All Signs of Pets
Dog houses, stakes in the yard, or other items which show you have pets can be a big turn off for potential buyers. Whether it is allergies or they imagine the house will smell like cat, dog, or rabbit; you may stop a serious buyer from looking at your home. To someone else, a pet means extra bills and time before moving in as the house will need cleaning to rid it of allergens and “pet smell” which is expensive and annoying.
Eliminate Kid Structures Too!
If there is a swingset or signs of kids, make sure the selling point of the property is proximity to elementary schools and not families without kids and high schools. You have memories of your children playing, but a swing set is not appealing to a home buyer unless the people moving in have little children or plan on having kids. That jungle gym now becomes an extra expense they have to get rid of, and a turn off when there are other similar homes without one.
If a selling point is an elementary school or a neighborhood with parks, daycares and younger families, then talk about how new the swing set is and make it an asset and benefit. But be careful because this can backfire easily.
Set Clear Times For Open Houses
Open Houses are one of the most important tools you have when doing a for sale by owner home sale. But make sure you are clear and concise. If people have trouble finding when and where your open house is, or how to get in contact with you if they’re lost, you may miss out on a potential buyer.
Make sure to include:
- The days and times you’ll be doing an open house.
- The exact street location which can be clicked and opened in a map from a phone.
- A phone number the person can call you on if they’re lost or running late.
- Directions from major surrounding areas.
- Ways to identify your home if others look similar (a balloon or sign out front).
- The dial up number if there is a call box.
Have Security at Your Open House
This one isn’t technically for your listings, but it is one that is very important for all for sale by owner homeowners.
Inviting strangers into your home is dangerous. Have friends there to help and monitor activity and make sure you are never alone in the house while strangers are there. Before your friends leave, do a full walk through and make sure all people have left. We cannot stress enough the dangers of strangers in your home. Make sure you and your security person do a full sweep before they leave you alone in your home.
Do Not Hide Flaws or Repairs That Need Done
The goal is to sell the property like it isn’t your home. Don’t hide the flaws or be embarrassed by them. They will be discovered as inspectors walk the property. If discovered later on, this will lower the price and cause you more frustrations as your for sale by owner deal can fall through. This property isn’t going to be your home so nobody will be judging you. Let the flaws be found and known. You’ll be able to sell the house faster and have less chance of your for sale by owner deal falling through at inspection.
Remember, your goal when creating a listing to sell your house by yourself is to create an environment that a potential buyer can picture themselves in and want to purchase. The tips above should help you to move your FSBO property faster, and if you’re looking for a title company, escrow or closing services, we’ll be happy to assist.